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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Sources: Israel-Hamas Hostage Deal Could Come As Soon As Today; Israeli War Cabinet Meets To Discuss Hostage Deal; Netanyahu: Return Of Hostages A "Sacred And Supreme" Mission. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired November 21, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Good day, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It's
Tuesday, November 21, 11 a m. here in Washington, 6 p.m. in Israel and Gaza, and we begin with breaking news there. The Israeli war cabinet is
meeting this hour as the government works to finalize a hostage deal with Hamas. Sources told CNN earlier that an announcement could be coming as
soon as today. Relatives of those still being held in Gaza say they're cautiously optimistic that their loved ones will be freed soon.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ HIRSH NAFTALI, GREAT AUNT OF 3-YEAR-OLD HOSTAGE ABIGAIL EDAN: When I think about that that on Friday is Abigail's fourth birthday, and that she
should be home with her family and with their sister and brother. And she isn't right now. It's just -- it's like you get your emotions, you have to
keep them in check. I'm not a politician. I'm not a diplomat. I will believe it when I see them walk out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: American officials, including President Biden, have been signaling that a deal is close at hand and that it could free as many as 50 hostages.
Jeremy Diamond joins us now from southern Israel near the border with Gaza. Jeremy, we know the war cabinet is meeting at this hour. How do you expect
this to continue to play out?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The war cabinet meeting is the first of a few steps in the Israeli government process in order to approve
this potential deal, which we believed is being finalized at this hour. The Israeli war cabinet will first vote on it. And then following that, there
will be a meeting of the security cabinet, and after that a meeting of the full governments of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is
unclear exactly at what time this deal will be announced. But, we were told earlier today that the Qatari government, which has been mediating these
talks between Israel and Hamas, expected to be able to announce a deal later today.
But, what's most important here, of course, are the details of this potential deal. And in this deal, what we could see is the release of 50
women and children in an initial stage of four to five days during which there would be a pause in the fighting between Israel and Hamas. Israel,
for its part, would also release Palestinian prisoners at a three to one ratio. So, three Palestinian prisoners for every Israeli civilian hostage
was released. There also appears to be, according to a source familiar with the negotiations, a stop on Israel flying surveillance drones above
northern Gaza for six hours per day. And all of this, of course, has been the result of weeks of very, very intense, very complex and very fraught
negotiations between Israel and Hamas mediated by the Qatari government with a heavy, heavy involvement by the United States as well.
We know that senior U.S. officials have been intimately involved in the details of these negotiations for weeks now. I've spoken with several of
the families of these hostages, in particular, women and children being held in Gaza, and they are simply in a state of anticipation in a place
where they simply don't want to get their hopes up too high at this moment until they know that their family members are safely out of Gaza. And
they're also very much being kept largely in the dark. They haven't at this hour have been given much information about whether their family members
are going to be a part of this initial deal.
What is clear, though, is that after these first 50 hostages are freed, if indeed this deal goes through, there could be additional hostages freed in
exchange for additional days of a pause in the fighting. And so, that is something to look out for as this all develops. But, certainly, we could
potentially see a deal come together as soon as tonight. Kasie.
HUNT: Jeremy, can you help explain just a little bit of why the surveillance drones have become a part of this? What is it that Israel is
resistant to about it? Why does Hamas want to do that?
DIAMOND: Well, look, the surveillance drones are a huge asset and a huge edge for the Israeli Military. These drones can be heard buzzing overhead
all day, night and day, when you are inside the Gaza Strip, and they provide them with key intelligence. They provide them with targeting
information, and a sense of also signals intelligence to try and pick up phone calls, for example, by Hamas militants. And so, one of the reasons
why Israel has been so resistant to not only the drone issue, but also a pause in fighting generally, is that they believe that Hamas is going to
use this period of time to regroup, to move its forces and to prepare for the next phase in the fighting. And so, that is potentially what we could
What is clear is that both sides are resisting calling what will come here, a ceasefire, instead referring to it as a truce or a pause in the fighting,
very much indicating that after we see this initial round of hostages released, we could very much see a return to the fighting.
HUNT: All right. Jeremy Diamond for us in southern Israel. Jeremy, thanks very much for your report.
Let's dive into all of this with today's panel, CNN Military Analyst Colonel Cedric Leighton, CNN National Security Analyst, Peter Bergen, and
Laura Barron-Lopez, she is a CNN Political Analyst and the White House Correspondent for PBS NewsHour. Welcome all of you.
Cedric, let me start with you in terms of the military pieces of this, because to actually make this happen, they are looking at this temporary
pause. We're not very specifically not calling it a ceasefire. What does that mean in kind of practical terms for the situation?
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, & U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): So, Kasie, what it means for my military standpoint is that the Israeli
forces are basically stopped where they are. So, they are going to move forward until this is approved. They're going to move forward to gain as
many advantageous positions as they possibly can. It also means, as Jeremy pointed out, that there are surveillance capabilities because of the drone
issue, are going to be stopped at least for that six-hour period every day. That also means that Hamas is going to be able to move forces in areas
where they're going to be unobserved. They're not going to be -- the Israelis aren't going to be able to see them do certain things that could
result in an improved defensive position for Hamas. It could also result in greater difficulties for the IDF as they move forward once the truce is
HUNT: Peter Bergen, what are your -- like, what are your primarily looking at here? Because I mean, this is -- it's basically a three to one exchange
in turn -- obviously, Hamas invaded Israel, took these civilian people hostage, and now they're trading -- they're using them as leverage, right?
Is this, in your view, the right move? I mean, obviously, the imperative is get those hostages out of there. But, there are sure also to be questions
especially if things Hamas regroups in -- during this pause.
PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. These are never -- I mean, these cost benefit analysis, these are never comfortable with these
negotiations. I mean, think back to when the Qataris negotiated the release of five Americans held in Iranian prisons in September. $6 billion of
Iranian funds were unfrozen. That money hasn't been spent yet. It's in a Qatari bank.
But, there was a lot of criticism of the Biden administration around this deal, even though I thought it was ill founded criticism. But, obviously,
also at this point, it's the centrality of the Qatari government. And I mean, there is some people saying, well, we should force the Qatari
Government to push the Hamas political leadership out, which I think would be a very stupid idea, because they will probably go to Syria or Iran. We
actually need a place to communicate with Hamas leadership, and Qatar is that place.
HUNT: OK. Fair enough. I mean, look, this has been, Laura, a -- obviously an ongoing trauma for the families of people who are held. I mean, we see,
I mean, on the streets here, around the world, posters of their faces. In some cases, those posters have become a political situation with people
tearing them down as the emotions have gotten higher. But, I do think this is a moment to focus on kind of the plight of the families and what they've
been going through. I want to show a little bit more of what the great aunt of -- the U.S. is very focused on three-year-old Abigail Edan who has been
held. She is the believed to be the youngest American. We heard a little bit from her in the open. But, here is a little bit more of what her great
aunt Liz Hirsh Naftali had to say this morning. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAFTALI: We can't get our hopes up in a way that just believes that it's going to happen right in the next couple of hours. But, you know, when I
think about that on Friday is Abigail's fourth birthday, and that she should be home with her family and with their sister and brother. And she
isn't right now. It's just -- it's like you get your emotions, you have to keep them in check.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I have trouble listening to that, because I have a four-year-old son who, thank the Lord, is at home with me right now. And for these families,
it's just been an agonizing 40 something, 50 something days since October 7. What role have they played in terms of talking to the White House? I
know President Biden has been very personally involved in these negotiations.
LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, & WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "PBS NEWSHOUR": He has. He has been talking to a number of the family
members. I think also they played -- those family members have played a key role in trying to make sure that, excuse me, that the administration and
that these hostages are front of mind to the administration, that they are something -- family members play a role in keeping pressure on, not that
this wasn't a high priority for the President because it has been from the beginning. He has said that it's been a top priority. His administration
has said that day in and day out that they're constantly working to try to get the hostages released.
But, those family members have been speaking to CNN, have been speaking to NewsHour, talking about just the uncertainty and the unknowns and how
devastating that is and how painful that is for them to go through every single day to not know what is happening to their loved ones, and keeping
that I think front and center has also been key to these negotiations.
HUNT: Yes. Peter, I mean, can you sort of help us understand a little bit about how this is likely working behind the scenes as someone who has a lot
of experience looking at how terrorist organizations operate this way? I mean, what's been going on with the hostages themselves?
BERGEN: Well, I mean, a lot of them seem to be in the tunnels, and the Hamas is taking a bit of a risk of releasing 50 people who might be able to
give some intelligence about other hostages, who else is there, how they're being held, who the hostage takers are. Their view may be somewhat limited.
But, nonetheless, they will certainly have some information once they are released, if they are released.
Secondary, the fact that this child, it is extremely traumatizing for -- you're talking about the White House. They understand that the trauma of
being held hostage as a very young child is something -- there is a clock here. I mean, you can't just sort of wait months and months and months this
kid will come out. We've had other American kids who've been taken hostage by the Taliban. They come out and they're quite disturbed that they've been
held for lengthy periods of time.
So, as you said, the pressure from the families is always very strong, and it becomes very -- it doesn't matter if it's President Biden or President
Trump. In fact, President Trump did quite a good job getting hostages out, and it becomes a very personal thing, because they come to the Oval Office,
and they talk directly to the President. They talk to the National Security Advisor. And people who work in this area at the White House often have
photographs of particularly hostage families on their desk, because it's -- for them, it is the crucial thing that they're trying to resolve --
BERGEN: -- amongst all the other things they have to resolve.
HUNT: Right. No. I mean, when you consider what a President has to deal with that sort of idea that that picture sitting there on the Oval Office
desk is a really evocative one. Colonel, what does the fact that we're here say about the success of the Israeli Military campaign or the status of the
Israeli Military campaign. Did they force them to the table here?
LEIGHTON: So, there is certainly a school of thought that that's the case. The Israelis in particular are going to say that the pressure that the IDF
put on the Hamas fighters is actually instrumental in getting Hamas to the table when it comes to these hostage negotiations. And I think there is
some truth to that. There is also, of course, the question, how much is too much? So, if the hostages are released, and not too many of them have been
killed or otherwise heard, then it could be a situation where the pressure has proven to be just right. And each situation is really quite different.
There are other terrorist groups that would react completely differently to the type of pressure that Hamas has been subjected to.
But, in this particular case, it does seem as if the Israelis do have a point, and that they put military pressure on them. They are forcing them
to do certain things, and hopefully will result in the release of these hostages.
HUNT: Of course, the question, has the civilian toll been too high, as they've gone above that? But, all right. We are waiting on a hostage deal.
It could be imminent. We're going to go live to Israel, up next.
HUNT: All right. We're listening to President Biden talk about the hostage situation. Let's listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: When we have more to say, we will. But things are looking good at the moment. Now, we're here today
to talk about fentanyl and how we can do more to save American lives. Fentanyl is likely the number one, number one killer of Americans at age 18
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: All right. You're listening to President Biden. He is currently hosting an event at the White House about fentanyl, but he did speak
briefly about what we believe to be a possibly imminent deal to release up to 50 hostages in Israel. We are going to bring you his remarks on tape in
just a moment. But, he did say that he has been speaking with the Israeli Prime Minister and others and that it sounds as though he is cautiously
optimistic. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting this hour with his war cabinet on this possible deal to release some of the hostages
that Hamas took on October 7. This as sources tell CNN the agreement could be announced as soon as today.
And CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now from Tel Aviv. He has been covering the minutiae of this story all morning. So, Oren, brings us up to speed on
where we stand and what the coming hours may bring.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The minutiae is part of the process now is how this plays out, because there is a legal and political process in
which a deal needs to be presented, approved and then implemented. It begins with the war cabinet meeting that started just about 15 minutes ago,
and that's a very small group, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the defense ministers, and only a very small number of others. From there
in 45 minutes, so at the top of the next hour, there'll be a meeting of the security cabinet. That's a wider group of some of the critical ministers in
Israel's government. And then, at 8 p.m. tonight, it'll be a full government meeting. That is the entire cabinet.
At each point, there might be debates. There might be arguments. There might be some people who try to raise issues with the framework of the
deal, as we've reported on it. But, it is clear from the Prime Minister's Office that this is expected to move forward. That's not the end of the
process. There was also a 24-hour window afterwards, where you're supposed to be able to file an appeal if you have an objection to the agreement. And
that will be at the Supreme Court. That has to play out as well. But, the whole process itself from pretty much right now until the end of that is
expected to keep moving forward, essentially, and playing out and moving towards what we expect is the imminent announcement of an agreement.
It's also worth noting that the Prime Minister's Office put out a statement a short time ago, saying they've had their director general reach out to
the directors general of the other ministries to prepare for all the necessary civilian assistance. So, all this is pointing towards an
announcement coming sometime tonight or a statement of some sort, in all likelihood from Netanyahu. Is it a done deal? No. And we've cautioned about
that many, many times before. But, every indication we're seeing here is that that's very much where this is headed at this point. Kasie.
HUNT: All right. Oren Liebermann, you've always -- already had a very long day, and I'm sure there is going to be a lot more reporting to do here in
the coming hours. So, thank you very much for being here live for us from Tel Aviv.
And of course, here in Washington, the critical -- the United States has been critical to the negotiation of this deal via emissaries in Qatar as
well. And President Biden just addressed this question at the top of an event on an unrelated subject. But, let's listen to what President Biden
had to say just moments ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I want to say a few words about the ongoing effort to bring home the hostages. And Hamas has been calling him since October 7. We are working on
this intensively for weeks, as you all know. I spoke recently about it both the Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Emir of Qatar. My team has been in
region, shuttling between (inaudible). We are now very close, very close. You could bring some of these hostages home very soon.
But, I don't want to get into the details, because nothing is done until it is done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Not going to be done until it's done. He didn't want to get into the details there. But, he did use the phrase very close and very soon, in
terms of the timing for the potential release of these hostages. Laura, you cover President Biden day in and day out. What you hear from him there? I
mean, clearly, they don't want to get ahead of it. But, they do seem very optimistic.
BARRON-LOPEZ: They do, and they've been sounding optimistic for the last few days now. And that's what we've also heard from national security
advisors, from his council members, them saying that they are really close, but they don't want to share all the details of this deal, because of the
fact that they're very worried that at any moment something could go wrong. And they don't want to mess up the fact that they could have these -- some
50 hostages released, also get more humanitarian aid, potentially into Gaza, which is something that the administration has been desperately
trying to do.
HUNT: Yes. No. And that's been a critical part of this as well. And our reporting says up to maybe 400 trucks or so. Some questions about whether
there might be other ways to get aid in besides the Rafah Crossing. I also just want to show everyone the most recent comments that we have from the
Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu about where things stand. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (TRANSLATED): Second goal, the return of the kidnapped. We are making progress. I don't think it's worth
saying more even at this moment. But, I hope there'll be good news soon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: So, of course, Peter Bergen, he said number two, we're working on this hostage situation. He has come under increasing pressure inside Israel
to do more about the hostages. There has been anger around this as it has sometimes conflicted with the goal of eliminating Hamas that he and war
cabinet have stated. What is the pressure that he is under? What kind of balance is he striking?
BERGEN: Well, the families are furious at him, but he is reacting to that pressure. But, yes, the reason that it's not done till it's done is I think
threefold. One, the Hamas political leadership has problems communicating with Hamas military leadership in Gaza. They're fighting a war.
Secondarily, some of these hostage are not being held by Hamas, are being held by a Palestinian Islamic Jihad. And thirdly, some of these hostages
are being held by even local gangs. So, just even kind of assembling these hostages is an issue. And the communication between -- the Hamas leadership
can say it's a done deal. But, until the hostages are actually assembled from these different groups, and Hamas military leadership actually
operationalize it, it is not a done deal. So, there is a lot of variables here.
HUNT: Well, this brings me to, I meant to mention this at the top, and as we've been on the air, there has been reporting cleared by CNN that Hamas
is saying that the hostages that they offered for initial release are alive, according to a source familiar. That, of course, has been a question
because at least two hostages have been found dead in recent days.
Colonel, talk a little bit about this, about how difficult it is to confirm even simple -- because this isn't -- this is a critical question,
obviously. But, when you're talking about how to actually execute on a deal like this, it is -- it's something that -- because of the circumstances, it
can't be easily, that Peter just laid, it can be easily confirmed. What -- can you expand a little bit on the challenges here?
LEIGHTON: Yes. Kasie, the key thing, as Peter mentioned, there are so many different aspects to this, and especially because there is so many
different groups involved in this. This is not as simple Hamas versus Israel situation here. And because of that very fact, the health and
welfare of the hostages is actually a primary concern. So, if you're an Israeli negotiator and you're going into something like this, you're
looking at this, am I going to really get these people back? Give me your proof of life. Do something like that. And in many cases, hostage takers
will give a proof of life in order to strengthen their bargaining power and make sure that that bargaining power is something that the other side
recognizes, and then acts in accordance with that fact.
And if they have that proof of life, then the negotiations can proceed in what amounts to good faith. And that's really what ends up happening in a
situation of this type.
HUNT: Peter, what is the -- I mean, what is the difference between some of these groups for people who don't follow this day in and day out as closely
as we do?
BERGEN: Well, Hamas was elected to government effectively in 2006, hasn't had any elections since. It's a quasi-state that also has a terrorist wing,
sort of like the Taliban. Palestinian Islamic Jihad is a much smaller group. They are solely interested -- not interested in governance of any
kind. They're just interested in killing Jews and Israelis. And then --
HUNT: What are the communications like between those two?
BERGEN: I mean, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad participated on October 7. So, I mean, I don't exactly know if it's warm relations or not, but clearly
there are relationships. And then there is local gangs in Gaza, some of whom may even sort of identify with Al-Qaeda or other. And so, that makes
this even more complicated. We know on October 7 that some people may have crossed the border, who were kind of just kind of caught up in the moment,
who weren't necessarily part of Hamas. Did they take hostages? We're going to find out more I think soon.
HUNT: Yes. And Laura, I mean, we know that in addition to the President being personally involved, this also was spearheaded in large part by Bill
Burns, the Director of the CIA, who has traveled to the region. Can you give us a sense of kind of what other resources were brought to bear as
BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, I think that we've seen a lot of diplomacy going on. I mean, we've seen the administration at every level, whether it's Secretary
Austin, whether it's Secretary of State Blinken, trying to be involved at every step in these conversations, whether it's parts of this deal, which
are in addition to the hostage -- in addition to the hostage releases, but also making sure that there is a pause, that there is care given to
civilians. Civilians are able to get out.
Another key question that I think we don't really have an answer to yet is, whether or not there is going to be conversation about where -- is there a
place for the civilians to go more concretely in Gaza that keeps them out of the way of the fighting? And this could potentially give the
administration this deal coming together, a little bit more conversation with Israel about what they're going to do to try to make sure that
civilians that stay in Gaza don't -- are not in harm's way --
BARRON-LOPEZ: -- as the fighting continues.
HUNT: Last words.
LEIGHTON: The key thing on that is -- that's absolutely right, Laura. The thing that the United States wants is basically a no strike zone so that
the civilians can go, be as safe as possible in a situation like that. Right now, in Gaza, you don't have that. Every single place in Gaza is a
dangerous zone, and that is something that the administration has worked really hard to prevent. But, the Israelis are moving forward as if that
HUNT: All right. Very interesting. Peter Bergen. Cedric Leighton, thank you guys both very much. I really appreciate your expertise. Laura Barron-Lopez
is going to be back with us in just a bit.
Just ahead here, more troubling signs for President Biden as an age gap develops over his Israel-Hamas war policies. We'll have the latest poll
numbers after this short break.
HUNT: Welcome back. We are following breaking news. A hostage deal announcement between Israel and Hamas could come as soon as today. We will
break in and let you know if and when that happens.
But, in the meantime, recent polling shows a huge generational divide here in the U.S. among Democratic voters on how President Biden is handling the
war. This poll shows 36 percent of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters disapprove of what he is doing. The reason that number is so high, it's
because of how voters under 35 feel. 69 percent of those young voters say they disapprove of Biden's handling of the war. It is the inverse among
older Democrats. For those 65 and older, 77 percent approve.
Our political panel joins us for this. CNN Political Analyst and Republican Strategist, Alice Stewart; Chuck Rocha, Democratic Strategist, former
Advisor to Bernie Sanders Presidential Campaigns, and Laura Barron-Lopez rejoins the table.
So, some pretty significant divides here, Laura, for the President here on Israel. It is basically completely the opposite. And support for Israel
among the Democratic Party had been something you could take to the bank for a long time. But, that seems to be changing here.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Particularly right among young voters.
BARRON-LOPEZ: Young voters have very different views than the older voters among the Democratic Party. They want to see the President talk more about
the civilians that are being killed in Gaza. They want to see the President advocate for a ceasefire. But, the administration has made very clear over
and over again that they are not going to be pushing for a ceasefire, because they say that that would mean that Hamas is able to re-equip itself
to then launch more attacks on Israel. And so, this is something the administration says, they just said yesterday, we're not going to be
governed by the polls, that they're going to be focused on what their mission is. The President feels this very personally.
So, I don't see the President changing his tune anytime soon, or his position on this war. But, it's something that they're -- the camp -- his
campaign is going to have to be paying more attention to the closer they get to the election, particularly in swing states like Michigan and in
Arizona and others where young voters could be the margin of victory.
HUNT: Yes. Chuck, you're very familiar with especially the progressive wing of your party. And I was -- as I was kind of reading in this morning, one
article I was reading referenced the generation of Democrats who represent these older voters. I mean, they are people that protested the Vietnam War,
right? And now they stand staunchly with Israel. And it's very different from younger counterparts. How do you understand what's going on here? And
do you think that this is like a permanent shift in the making? Or people always talk about, well, people are more liberal when they're young, and
they vote more conservatively when they're older. How do you understand what's going on here?
CHUCK ROCHA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, & SR. ADVISOR, BERNIE SANDERS PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN 2016 & 2020: OK. So, I think what you just said is
right. Younger voters are more liberal. But, there is a different nuance from the Vietnam War, which I think you would use talk about the Vietnam
War, and old hippies like me, is that the social media --
HUNT: I didn't want to call you that. I appreciate you helping everyone understand you --
ROCHA: You got it.
HUNT: -- by saying that.
ROCHA: I worked for Bernie Sanders. I came on from (inaudible). Let's be clear. I'd have this funny accent, but I am an old hippie. So, if you think
about the new generation, social media, and you've mentioned TikTok has had a big influence there. And we were talking in the greenroom earlier with
Alice and I was saying how -- when you think about one thing that he has to have, Biden, he has got to have youth voter turnout like they had in the
off-year election in Philadelphia, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, and I worry about this. Now, when you pivot to the general election, we all forget that
Donald Trump is to the right of Joe Biden on this issue. Do these young voters then in a general election show up for Joe Biden because he is less
mean than Trump, or do, which I worry, to death about is stay home?
HUNT: Yes. Well, I mean, if we dig into the polling there, it shows overwhelmingly people -- Democrats say that they're voting against Donald
Trump when they are talking to pollsters about a hypothetical matchup there.
ROCHA: Yes. For sure.
HUNT: Only about 30 percent of them are actually affirmatively voting for Joe Biden. And that fear, that's what the White House is counting on --
HUNT: -- that fear of Trump. It's very real. Alice, I am sorry, I mean, to cut you off.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No. I agree with Chuck. And I fully support what this Biden administration is
doing in this situation. We have to show support for Israel. It's our greatest ally in the region. And I think this administration was right to
full heartedly throw support behind them and continue to do so with humanitarian aid and financial assistance, as we have done for years. The
problem he is going to have politically is, as Chuck mentioned, these younger voters, the progressive voters and many being led by progressive
members of Congress, I think not being factually accurate with what is actually going on here.
The first and foremost thing to consider is that Israel was terrorized and attacked by Hamas, brutally, viciously and deadly on October 7, and they
had every single right to defend themselves. And if any Palestinians were killed in the process, that is devastating and awful, but that is on Hamas.
That is not on Israel. And they had every single right to continue to defend themselves. And I was at an event at the UN yesterday, and one of
the sons of one of the co-founders of Hamas, who was excommunicated from Hamas and is doing everything he can to expose this terror organization, he
says, look, we have to eradicate Hamas. We have to take them out now. If not, they will take over Israel and make this Islamic terrorism state. And
if they win in Israel, they will go to Europe next, and they will go to America next.
And it is incumbent upon Israel and with the support of America to take out Hamas because they are not stopping here. And I was able to see the footage
that Hamas used as they killed indiscriminately women, children and men, beheading people with garden tools, shooting dogs, picking these people
they're going to use as hostages, for this very reason to have conversations like they're having today so that they can use these innocent
people, Palestinian people, as well as Israel to continue to further in their effort to create an Islamic state in Israel.
HUNT: Well, what you're touching on? I mean, the Israeli government has shown a package of footage like that to a number of groups of journalists,
members of Congress, others to try and remind people of the horrors that happened on October 7, because I mean, Laura, I think the thing about this
is -- I honestly hesitate a little bit to say it this way, because these were innocent people who were slaughtered mercilessly. But, what happened
and the video is what happened have become part of an information struggle between what Israel is trying to project in terms of why they're doing,
what they're doing, and what the Hamas and Palestinians are trying to convey about the very real humanitarian struggle that so many innocent
civilians in the Gaza Strip are now dealing with.
And this is a real challenge for the White House, especially as he heads into an election year. I mean, most people in the age group we're talking
about, they're getting their information from here. A lot of it's coming through on TikTok. It's become a concern on the campaign trail. Republicans
say that shouldn't be -- basically shouldn't be allowed, because it's controlled by the Chinese, and the Chinese obviously have kind of put their
finger on the scale in this conflict as well in allowing antisemitic things to flourish in their very tightly controlled social media spaces in China,
while also, of course, taking certain positions on calling for a ceasefire on the world stage.
How is the White House thinking about this? I mean, do they have a plan to try to talk to young people in these spaces or not?
BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean, the President just joined Threads --
HUNT: Yesterday, right?
BARRON-LOPEZ: -- on Instagram yesterday. I think they have a presence on social media. Are they actively trying to combat bit by bit, all of the
disinformation that is just at people's fingertips, in particular, young people? I mean, I have seen people in the millennial and Gen Z age group
across Instagram and TikTok just at the drop of a hat, resharing, reposting just false information about what has gone on in this war, and the level of
disinformation that is across Twitter, X, is across Instagram, is across TikTok, is massive, and that disinformation goes viral much faster than the
truth is able to spread.
The administration doesn't have a full on plan to try to combat all of that with young voters. It's something that they're going to have to address
again. As Chuck said, the closer we get to next year, when the campaign gets fully going which -- the campaign is not fully going yet, Biden's
campaign at least --
BARRON-LOPEZ: -- they're going to have to talk to young voters about this, and I think explain and we've seen the President try a little bit to
explain exactly why he has taken this position that he has taken. But, he has done it from the Oval Office in massive addresses to the country. Do
young voters see that? Do they watch it?
HUNT: And not how --
BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. Right. Right.
HUNT: -- people consume their news. OK. Well, thank you all for joining us today. We're going to have a bunch -- quite a bit more coming up here, a
perspective on a possible hostage deal from the former Foreign Policy Advisor to Republican Mitt Romney, Dan Senor joins us ahead.
HUNT: Welcome back. Our breaking news, Israeli officials meeting at this hour to discuss a possible deal that could secure the release of 50
hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says negotiations have been making progress and that he hopes to have some good
news soon. As you can see here, right now in Tel Aviv, families of the hostages taken by Hamas and other groups in Gaza are protesting outside
Israel's Defense headquarters.
For some perspective on this, let's bring in Dan Senor. He was a Foreign Policy Advisor to Republican Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential campaign, and
is also the Co-Author of "The Genius of Israel". Dan, it's great to see you. Thank you for spending some time with us today.
DAN SENOR, FMR. ADVISOR TO MITT ROMNEY'S PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN, & CO- AUTHOR, "THE GENIUS OF ISRAEL": Hi Kasie. Good to be with you.
HUNT: So, let's start honestly with what we're seeing right there, those protests from the families of the hostages. This is something that has
really divided the public in Israel as these families have tried to make their very emotional case. And as others in the government have been
pressing forward with the military campaign, some say at the expense of the hostages. Is that how you view it? And how do you --
HUNT: -- understand the tensions going on here?
SENOR: Yes. I would say first of all, those who are in the Israeli security cabinet or the Israeli cabinet, they're not really members of the security
cabinet, of the broader cabinet, more extreme elements within the cabinet, I don't think are representative of a large segment of the population. I
think the Israeli society writ large wants to make progress on hostages as much as is feasible. I think the challenge, Kasie, this question I often
ask in my own conversations with Israelis, I've met with hostage families - - families of hostages, conversations I had in my own podcast with Israeli officials and journalists, the question I always ask is, it seems that the
war in Gaza, Israel's war in Gaza, meaning its defensive war in Gaza, has twin objectives. One is to eradicate Hamas, and the other is to get the
Now, I often asked my guests and I ask context in Israel, I say, so do those two objectives reinforce one another? Or are they in conflict with
one another? I think the second point is what you're -- the second question is what you're zeroing in on. I would say, up to this point, they have
reinforced one another.
That is to say the deal, while it is always difficult for Israel to have to negotiate and make concessions to get hostages back, and we can get into
why that's problematic. It has a checkered history, including the architect of the October 7 massacre, Sinwar, is someone who returned to Gaza in 2011,
who was serving two or three life sentences in an Israeli prison. He wouldn't have gotten out of Israeli prison back to Gaza to live and fight
another day had there not been another hostage exchange deal.
So, the history of these hostage exchanges are tricky. That said, there are some who argue that Israel moving as aggressively as it has and doing as
much damage as it has done to Hamas's leadership and military capabilities, is why Hamas came to the table to negotiate. So, in that sense, the
objectives of eradicating Hamas and getting the hostages back or at least some of them reinforce one another. But, I think we're now headed to a
stage in the war where that's going to be debatable. That wasn't that Israel is going to have to ultimately pull back. I think there will be
pressure on Israel to pull back, both some within domestic elements within Israel, but also internationally to get the rest of the hostages back.
And so, I think that tension you're referring to, we're about to see come into focus. I don't think that's been the case up to now. Like I said --
SENOR: -- to the contrary, I think the reason that Hamas is willing to negotiate was because Israel is hitting them so hard.
HUNT: Yes. No. That's -- it's very interesting perspective. And there was something else that happened as well in Israel, and I want to show you some
video here in a second. It's of hostage families in a very emotional. They're speaking in Hebrew. So, many people watching will be able to
understand, but the emotion of it is very clear. And they're talking about potentially implementing the death penalty for terrorists in Israel. I want
to show this to you and to everyone and ask you about it on their side. Take a look.
HUNT: So, you can see there, Dan, they're holding the pictures, and they're basically saying to them, if you do this, if you implement this policy,
it's going to make it harder for us to get our family members home. What do you see when you watch that? Do you think that's the case? I mean, how is
the domestic political environment in Israel driving decision making on how to handle these questions?
SENOR: I think the biggest issue here, Kasie, is that the Israeli security establishment is living with its unbelievable burden of guilt, the
political leadership and the security leadership of tremendous guilt. I mean, I just hear it when I talk to these people. And you can just hear it
in many of their public commentaries, that they really -- there was a massive gap on October 7. This shouldn't have happened. And there'll be
plenty of time after this war to try to get a handle on what actually went wrong, how these gaps happened, why the security doctrine didn't account
for Hamas, trying to actually do to Israel what it states in its charter wants to do, which is wipe out every Jew in Israel. They tried to do it
It was almost like Israel didn't believe, Israeli security doctrine didn't assume that that was a real possibility that they tried to do it. And so,
the leadership in Israel feels this tremendous burden for having failed on October 7. Some Israeli public intellectuals I speak to make the point that
it was almost October 7 for about a 12-year period -- 12-hour period, it was like --
SENOR: -- the State of Israel didn't exist. The violence that was unleashed, the barbarism that was unleashed on Israel was -- gave Jews the
feel that there was no Israel. And they -- so, they feel such a burden. And then they feel like it was on their watch therefore that all these hostages
got taken. And yes, they have to prosecute the war. And yes, they can prosecute the war. But, they have to do everything they can to get these
hostages back because of this broken trust almost --
SENOR: -- with Israeli society for having failed so drastically on October 7.
HUNT: Yes. That's very important point. All right. Dan Senor, thank you very much for joining us to provide us with some perspective. I hope you'll
SENOR: Thank you.
All right. President Biden of course faces a massive challenge in 2024, young voters who supported him in the last election might not be so
supportive the next time. What does that mean for him? We'll have more after this quick break.
HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. Young voters helped power President Biden's win in 2020. But,
the President has lost ground with them because of everything from student loans to the Israel-Hamas war, as he gears up for his 2024 reelection
fight. Here is CNN's John King with more.
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Midterms are done. The final is just ahead. There is a rhythm to life on campus, and
this fall, a raw divide.
MAYA SIEGMANN, MICHIGAN VOTER, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I am an Israeli -- Jewish Israeli-American.
KING (voice-over): Maya Siegmann is a sophomore at Wayne State in Michigan, studying social work, chatting with friends here at the Jewish campus
KING: At Hillel, there is a police officer down the hall. That's not normal.
SIEGMANN: It is now.
KING (voice-over): Siegmann traveled to Washington last week to join thousands in support of Israel, now back on a campus divided.
SIEGMANN: The division is very clear. The tension on campus is very high.
KING (voice-over): Wayne State spends 200 acres in Downtown Detroit, Ibrahim Ghazal among the 24,000 students.
IBRAHIM GHAZAL, MICHIGAN VOTER, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I'm Muslim. I'm American. I'm Palestinian.
KING (voice-over): Ghazal calls antisemitism horrible and disgusting.
KING: Do you feel the flip side of it? Are there more --
GHAZAL: In terms of Islamophobia?
GHAZAL: Yes, of course.
KING: More Islamophobia. People just saying hurtful things.
GHAZAL: Of course. I think it's disgusting the standing up for children dying, and women dying and civilian infrastructure being destroyed, is
being compared to supporting Hamas. I mean, holding up a Palestinian flag does not support Hamas. Hamas has their own flag. Nobody is carrying their
KING (voice-over): This coffee shop is in Dearborn, where about half of the residents are of Arab ancestry. Ghazal and his friends say a President they
supported in 2020 is now green lighting. An Israeli response they see is indiscriminant.
GHAZAL: And I don't think our country should fund that type of reaction.
KING: Do you feel this way?
GHAZAL: To an extent, yes. I feel as though President Biden doesn't value my life as a Muslim American as much as he values other lives.
KING (voice-over): Young voters were a giant part of the Biden 2020 coalition, and this urban campus tilts Deep Blue.
KING: If it's Biden-Trump next November, you would --
SUMMER MATKIN, MICHIGAN VOTER, WAYNE STATE UNIVERSITY STUDENT: I would go Biden.
KING (voice-over): Summer Matkin is just 18, a theater major, an eSports enthusiast, and an LGBTQ voter who wishes President Biden would yield to
MATKIN: I think that weird generational gap is something that is very, very hard for young people. So, when there are certain things that we want to be
heard as young people, you know, with not only, you know, the conflict out with Israeli and Palestine people, but we also have like student loan
forgiveness and all of these different financial problems that aren't being handled when they are very much capable of being handled.
KING (voice-over): Matkin isn't ruling out voting third party, but --
MATKIN: It feels like a weird kind of throwaway vote.
KING (voice-over): Joseph Fisher used to think that way. But, right now, he favors a socialist party. In 2020, Fisher was just 17. But, he helped the
ACLU register voters back home in Georgia.
KING: So, you have helped them elected.
JOSEPH FISHER, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDENT: I did. Yes.
KING: What about 2024?
FISHER: I will not vote for Joe Biden, not this time.
KING (voice-over): This is Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan students writing the names of Palestinians killed in Gaza.
FISHER: One of our demands that we're pressuring admin for right now is complete divestment from the State of Israel.
KING: You say genocide.
FISHER: Yes. I do say.
KING: The Prime Minister of Israel or the President of the United States would say response to terrorism.
FISHER: Absolutely. It's absolutely essential that we call it for what it is, a genocide, and also say that it doesn't start on October 7. It started
in 1948 with the creation of the settler colonial state of Israel.
KING (voice-over): Some Jewish students say talk like that, beliefs like that, are stoking an alarming rise in antisemitism.
SIEGMANN: I wish it wasn't like this, but this is what we live right now.
KING (voice-over): 50,000 students here in Ann Arbor, and interest in the College Democrats is up.
JADE GRAY, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN STUDENT: We've had 50, 40, 30 consistently for meetings.
ANUSHKA JALISATGI: And in the past, it has been closer to maybe 10, 15, 20.
KING (voice-over): Seniors and co-presidents of the College Democrats, Anushka Jalisatgi and Jade gray helped generate big turnout here in 2020
and again in 2022. They have weekly meetings now to plan 2024.
KING: Should we have somebody younger? Does that come up much?
GRAY: Absolutely. It comes up. And I think that that's a -- it's a real point to make. It's a real conversation to be had.
KING (voice-over): The immediate challenge, though, is seeing students who agree on things like abortion rights and defending democracy at odds over
the Israel-Hamas crisis and President Biden's response.
GRAY: You know, Mr. President, I've seen you take key humanitarian steps, but I think the next step is a ceasefire, and I think that that would go a
long way with voters.
KING: We don't know what's happening with the deal, next week or next month. But, if the election were tomorrow, do you think that it is more
likely some of your members would sit out or look for another option, third party, because they're mad at the President about this?
JALISATGI: Some of them, yes, they have shared with us, but maybe this is making me reconsider.
KING: Is it fair to say you're glad the election is not tomorrow?
KING (voice-over): Young progressives who agree on so much divided at the moment over which names should most stir your outrage. John King, CNN,
HUNT: Such fascinating conversations John King had on those campuses. I'm Kasie Hunt. Thanks for watching today, Tuesday, November 21. You can always
follow me on Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.